This hot little Honda is a surefire volume seller in the enthusiast segment.
Character. It’s what sets one car apart from another, and even further separates varying levels of enthusiast picks. The Honda Civic now offers more varieties than Honda does total models, which means there is something in the Civic line for everybody. Healthily in its tenth generation, the car is better than ever, with the latest in technology as well as design and safety. Sitting below the range-topping Type R (reviewed here), this is the 2017 Honda Civic Si Coupe. This car has evolved considerably over its near-thirty year lifespan, and this latest generation has a lot going for it.
First though, there is an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. This is the first time a real Civic Si (reviewed here) has been offered without a VTEC motor. Between 2004 and 2005, Honda offered a Civic EX sedan to Canadians with an automatic transmission and rear spoiler, calling it the Si – that’s the exception to this. Under the hood of the new Si is a heavily tuned version of the 1.5L turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine seen elsewhere in the Honda lineup.
It may be the same essential block, but boost has been cranked up to a peak 20.3psi. Critics complained that the outgoing Si was lacking in low-end torque, only delivering on the higher end of the range as VTEC would kick in. This is the solution; a motor pushing 205 horsepower at 5,700RPM and 192 lb-ft. of torque coming in at 2,100RPM and holding strong to the 5,000RPM mark. This car pulls hard at city speeds, easily hustling right up to highway speeds with no efforts at all. There is an abundance of torque after 2,100RPM and the powertrain engagement easily surpasses the Hyundai Elantra Sport (reviewed here).
The new Civic Si is a great little performance bargain, but where things start to become questionable is north of 5,000RPM. In previous years, Honda’s sporty vehicles were known to make up for the lack of low-end grunt with VTEC. This Si has a turbocharger that provides additional oomph, but at the higher end of the rev range, it runs out of breath very quickly. It will still perform adequately at the weekend autocross, but there’s no satisfaction revving it right up to the top. The new Type R does have a combination between VTEC and the turbocharger, which puts it at just over 300 horsepower.
Honda’s decision to go this route is understandable, as many younger buyers don’t have the experience with previous models to know how things used to be. They haven’t given up on the natural feel or purity though, as a helical limited slip differential is standard equipment, and the only transmission available is a slick six-speed manual. The shifter is, as expected from Honda, pure brilliance. The clutch is feather-light but has a noted feel to it. The only downside to this transmission is the electronic parking brake, which is a bit of a nuisance on an otherwise-perfect setup.
At the same time, the Si has never been a straight-line car. Throw it into a corner and it will perform beautifully, tackling the highway on and off-ramps like it’s nobody’s business. The power steering is electrically assisted, but the weight is adjustable using the “Sport” mode and provides some degree of feedback. The Civic goes exactly where it’s pointed, and understeer is only evident as it approaches its limit.
Said “Sport” mode, toggled via a button next to the gear shifter, also adjusts the adaptive damper system. There is a solenoid built into the suspension setup that can toggle the damping, firming the car up when more spirited driving is called upon. It isn’t the most noticeable difference as far as overall ride quality is concerned, but push the car harder and the firmer damping makes itself evident. When in “Sport”, the Civic Si will address throttle mapping for more urgent response, as well.
Fuel economy for the Si Coupe is rated at 8.2L/100km in the city and 6.2L/100km on the highway, for an average rating of 7.4L/100km combined. Our test consisted of roughly 850km of mixed driving, including some adventures into our favourite rural back roads. The car sat comfortably at 7.2L/100km for the duration of our week, running on 91-octane premium fuel. Premium is recommended but not required, though we recommend buyers use it exclusively in order to maintain maximum performance and efficiency.
The interior of the Si is barely any different from the standard two-door Civic (reviewed here). Overall ergonomics are fairly good, though there are a few noteworthy quirks. Materials overall are also excellent, with high quality fabrics used on the seats and premium-feeling plastics around the cabin. The buttons are all nice to the touch and navigating around the infotainment system is fairly simple, though the Honda GUI could use a refresh. The vast majority of buyers will make use of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and when these are combined with the “Auto” button on the automatic climate control, the rest of the proprietary Honda system is sparingly used.
It’s also very spacious inside the Civic Si Coupe, with plenty of leg and headroom for front occupants. The rear seats are for smaller folks only, and entry/exit points are convenient but simply a bit tight for real adults. The sunroof (standard equipment) digs into headroom a little bit, but at 6’1, I found myself comfortable with no issues – more than can be said of the Toyota 86 (reviewed here). The center console is roomy and there’s also a small cubby below the shifter for small things, though the cupholders are awkward to use and the adjustable armrest isn’t the friendliest. Lastly – there is no volume button, and the touch slider can be awkward to use.
Pricing for the Civic Si Coupe is $28,890, with no available options on this model. The car comes fully equipped including LED headlights and fog lights, premium cloth seating with heated seats, power sunroof, rear wing spoiler, special ground effects unique to the Si, and 18” alloy wheels. Other features on board are a center-exit exhaust, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 452-watt audio system, aluminum pedals, and Honda’s LaneWatch blind spot system. The Si is a little bit more money than the Elantra Sport Tech (reviewed here), which sits at $27,499 with the manual transmission, but you do get a lot more car.
This hot little Honda is a surefire volume seller in the enthusiast segment. True rivals right now include the Elantra Sport and the Nissan Sentra NISMO (reviewed here), though neither of these entries offer as much engagement or overall driving pleasure as the Honda. The Si is offered in coupé or sedan form only, and the closest variant of the Civic Hatchback is the Sport Touring, which is similarly priced. The 2017 Honda Civic Si Coupe is all grown up, and ready to battle against the other boosted compacts from Japan and Korea.